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Education Study Tells Us What We Already Know

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A study prepared for the Association of Texas Professional Educators says that schools that pay and train teachers better attract better teachers, according to a report in the

Houston Chronicle

.

Hmm, do we really need another study to tell us teachers go where the funding and support is?

Not according to Francis Smith, region 3B president of the Texas State Teachers Association and a Cy Fair English teacher. “I don’t know why they keep doing [studies]. It seems it’s a way of putting off what they need to do. With our legislature being very right-wing and Republican, public education is not thought of as a priority.

"They keep forgetting that you can’t run education like a business. There’s a famous phrase, 'kids are not widgets.' Parents name education as one of the priorities of what we should spend money on, but they haven’t put the pressure on political leaders to do that.”

Smith agrees that experienced, highly qualified teachers avoid low-paying jobs at problematic school districts.

“If teachers have their choice they’re not going to put themselves in a real difficult situation, especially if they don’t have to be," she says. "So, it often happens that your more experienced teachers are not teaching those that are least able to learn, the more experienced teachers move up in the system.

"The students that are least able to learn are usually the ones with the most discipline problems. They have the most [undiagnosed] learning disabilities,” says Smith. “Those kids are hard to reach and oftentimes you don’t have the tools, you don’t have small classes. And with those type of students, you’ve got to have small classes. You’ve got to have lots of materials to be able reach the students.”

So can teacher bonuses be used as a way to attract experienced teachers? Not at the current average of $1,000 to $3,000 says Smith. “I don’t know that money alone will fix anything, but it will certainly soften the situation,” she says. “$1,000 is not going to do much. Even $3,000, which is considered a big raise for teachers, when you divide that over the year’s paychecks, it’s not much.”

-- Olivia Flores Alvarez

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